Towards the end of last year I launched Operation Payback. It’s a new funding initiative which will see £350,000 recovered from criminals in the North East paid back to local communities to repair the damage caused by crime.
I’m a firm believer in improving lives to prevent crime. Whether it’s supporting the vulnerable or providing diversionary activities to tackle unwanted behaviour in our neighbourhoods – investing in this type of support in our communities can help prevent crime in the long-term.
You see, while we need our police serving our communities, we also need the community itself to help identify the solutions to local problems and I want this fund to empower them to do just that. And, I’m sure you’ll agree, there is no better way to help pay for this than by using the cash from the hands of criminals.
And, I’m committed to keeping this funding going, so in the years to come the fund will be topped up with some of the money seized from criminal activity under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA), with some recovered funds also going to Northumbria Police to help them target more criminals.
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There are people and entire communities who have suffered so much at the hands of criminals who have caused great misery to others. With this money we want to help groups to really turn things around in their neighbourhood. Crucially, we want the money to help prevent others from going down a path that leads to a life of crime.
So, for now I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is working hard trying to support local people.
We’ll be making announcements in the coming weeks and I look forward to sharing some of the stand-out ideas and collaborations in the near future. I’m confident that together we will really make a difference and it’s these efforts that are exactly what society needs if we are going to truly prevent and fight crime.